Ready or not, 4K smartphone screens are on the way from Sharp

The next generation of smartphones could use Sharp's 3840 x 2160 5.5-inch display. Do we really need that much detail on a handheld screen though?
Written by Kevin Tofel, Contributor on

We're literally just getting used to flagship phones with 2.5k, or QHD, screens and now the 4k UHD models are on the horizon. Phone Arena noted Monday that Sharp announced its 5.5-inch IGZO panel with 2160 x 3840 resolution is expected in mass production in 2016. With that display resolution, any phones using Sharp's 4k panel will have an eye-popping 806 pixels per inch.

Sharp's 5.5-inch IGZO 4k smartphone screen

Don't get too excited just yet though. The first panels are likely going into smartphones for China; it will take some time for Sharp to boost production enough for the rest of the world. Even so, I'm not sure it even makes sense for a smartphone screen to have such a high resolution.

Sure, in the tech world, more is often better than less. And I can appreciate high resolution displays; I bought my first HDTV years before content was available back in 2003, for example. I also enjoy the 2560 x 1700 display on Google's Chromebook Pixel and my MacBook Pro is connected to a UHD monitor with 3840 x 2160 resolution.

But 806 pixels per inch on a pocketable device that you hold about a foot from your eyes? It sounds like unnecessary overkill to me. That aside, the benefits of such a highly detailed display can be outweighed by the battery life and GPU requirements needed to power it.

That's actually the argument I used when buying a new smartphone a few months back. I could have opted for a flagship phone with 2k display but instead, I chose the latest Moto X handset and its 1080p screen. I'd rather have a nice enough looking phone screen and more battery life than a superb screen that runs down the battery faster.

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